High gas prices and a slow economy haven’t stopped Wichita RV in Wichita, Kan., from growing.
The recreation vehicle dealership has opened a west-side lot at 10810 W. Kellogg, west of Maize Road, the Wichita Eagle reported.
Stuart Atherton and Dan Garczynski, Wichita RV general manager and general sales manager, respectively, opened the lot because of anticipated growth and customer demand.
The company previously operated from a single location, at 12828 SW Highway 54.
In the past 18 months Wichita RV has hired seven new employees, bringing its total to 18. And the company recently expanded its service building from three bays to seven, including an enclosed paint booth that allows the company to repaint RVs up to 45 feet long.
“We’re still selling. We’re still doing good,” Garczynski said.
The company’s growth has been deliberate and is recently stimulated by an expansion of its service capabilities, including the addition of the paint booth, Garczynski and Atherton said.
The west-side location will help Wichita RV expand its service business even more, they said, because they are letting their west-side customers drop off their RVs and campers, and then staff shuttles them to the east-side location. West-side customers can also pick up their RVs there once service work is completed.
They said some people don’t want to drive the 21 miles to Wichita RV’s east-side location and will look for alternative places to get service.
“We’re trying to expand not just on the sales, but the service,” Atherton, who also has ownership in the business.
The new location, which shares space with Hino Trucks of Wichita, includes lot space for up to 45 RVs.
Wichita RV currently has 37 units at the west location, ranging in price from $25,000 to $300,000.
The new location also has an 1,800-square-foot parts and accessories store.
Garczynski and Atherton insisted that higher gas prices have not affected sales and that people are still buying RVs.
According to their trade group, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in Reston, Va., dealers across the country began ordering more RVs starting last year.
RVIA spokesman Kevin Broom said RV shipments were up 46% in 2010, mainly from dealers replenishing inventory.
“What happened in 2008, 2009, they sold off a lot of what they had on hand,” Broom said. “Consumer demand was down.”
In those years, he said credit availability was tough, as were favorable financing terms. That has changed.
The association expects RV shipments to increase another 8.6% in 2011, he said.
As for gas prices, they may have some effect on first-time buyers, Broom said.
But “one of the things we’ve learned is when fuel prices go up, (RV owners) adjust,” he said. “They still go on vacation. They still use their RVs.
“They just go fewer miles.”